As I mentioned in my previous post, Atheism for Lent invites us to delve into
- the atheistic dimensions of theism and
- the theistic dimensions of atheism.
Also, in proper Lenten tradition and practice, AfL asks us to give up somethings for this season. Specifically, Atheism for Lent asks us to give up
- agreeing with the daily material and
- disagreeing with the daily material.
The goal here, whether we have a theistic or an atheistic bent, is just to let the daily ponderings bother the hell out of us.
Whaaaaa? In this daily practice, I’m supposed to pay attention to my feelings about it — and what? Just feel my feelings? What kind of malarkey is that?
Feel my feelings. Harrumph.
Like that’s something I’ve heard somewhere else before recently and frequently. Like in sessions with my counselor. Ha.
Okay, FINE. *eyeroll*
So what do I feel about the reading for DAY ONE?
The material for DAY ONE is a mini-seminar video by Rollins himself, entitled “A/theism and the Theological Cure,” and how I feel about it is confused.
I get the dialectic dance between theism and atheism. Rollins presents it like this:
Metaphysical Theisms: what all classical theisms hold in common
Metaphysical Atheisms: in-advance rejection of oneness, of ultimate reality
Regional Theisms: any beliefs/belief systems that we see in the world
Regional Atheisms: rejection of each various belief/system (“So, which god[s] do you not believe in?”)
In this view, atheism relies on theism; you can’t have a type of atheism without the “matching” type of theism being present in the first place.
Conversely, theism also relies on atheism because as soon as you make a certain claim about God, you’re making that claim against the backdrop of possible negation. This part is where my confusion sets in, because I’m not sure that’s true? I’m not sure it makes sense to me? I’m not sure it resonates? I don’t know, but something about it confuses me.
Maybe I just feel unsettled and disturbed, which means AfL is functioning as designed.
I also feel deep suspicion that these all are statements and questions I wouldn’t be allowed to make or pose in ANY of the various flavors of Christianity I’ve participated in over the years.
Okay, it’s not a suspicion. I feel a deep, sad certainty.
Why can’t we all just talk to each other? Why can’t we all simply make ourselves vulnerable to each other? Why does your damned power structure have to feel so existentially threatened by musings and doubtings and desperate questionings from little ol’ me?
Rollins says that atheism exists as bubbles of potentiality in every given theistic belief, and we will find these bubbles every time we immerse (dare I say baptize? [clutch your pearls, dahlings]) ourselves fully in the depths of any given theistic belief. Here’s an example:
- God is all-good.
- God is all-powerful.
- Unnecessary human suffering exists.
All three of these statements cannot be true; as soon as you deny one, you’re denying a belief about god, life, universe, everything. That’s an atheistic potentiality. Not only that, but: if you’re really committed to critiquing something, the best thing you can do is go as deeply into it as possible.
The truth or “truth” or Truth is the movement itself, not the place where we end up. And this is a/theism, the space in which we’re always moving around and through the gap. If you’re an Anne McCaffrey fan, you might say we exist between (and don’t forget your booties, ’cause it’s cold out there).
I feel confused. Suspicious of the past and of potential future (conversations). I feel convinced. And I feel good. Minding the gap feels like freedom. It feels like life. It’s an unresolved tension, an antagonism that is the generative force of all life, thought, reality. An antagonism that is creativity.
No story has life without a good antagonist.